Secretary of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO)’s Executive Committee Saeb Erekat announced on Friday that the Palestinian leadership took the necessary measures to make Israel pay the price of 53 years of occupation, a statement disclosed.
In a statement sent to media marking the 53rd anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, Erekat noted that the Palestinian leadership terminated the deals which had been practically cancelled by Israel.
“The leadership intensified its political, legal and diplomatic campaigns that would push the international community to enforce the international legitimacy and implementation of the international law,” Erekat communicated, stressing that “actions must be taken along with issuing statements.”
He considered that the long history of Israeli violence against the Palestinians “must be the incentive” for the international community to reject the Israeli annexation plan and take practical measures regarding the recognition of the state of Palestine.
Erekat emphasised that all Palestinian factions along with the PLO and the Palestinian Authority’s leadership are united against the annexation plan and have pledged to undermine it.
Meanwhile, he explained that ending the internal division and regaining national unity is a key to encounter the “systematic imperialist” policies of the occupation, and that the continuous national strife and escalation of popular resistance is vital to achieving the national independence for the state of Palestine.
In 1967, Israel launched a war against its neighbours and took control of the parts of Palestine which it had failed to capture during its 1948 “War of Independence.
On 5 June 1967, Israel launched a pre-emptive strike against Egypt, Jordan, Iraq and Syria. After knocking out the air defences of these countries, it occupied East Jerusalem, the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, as well as the Syrian Golan Heights and Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula. Thus, it had taken control of the final 22 per cent of historic Palestine that it wasn’t able to occupy in 1948.
Nearly 400,000 Palestinians were added to the hundreds of thousands of refugees displaced in 1948 and their homes and villages were razed to the ground by the Israelis. Around half were being displaced for the second time in less than 20 years.
The Naksa commemorates this tragic setback in the Palestinian struggle for freedom and self-determination.
Palestinian protestors clash with Israeli forces during a protest marking the 53rd anniversary of Naksa or setback day, near the Jabara military check point in Tulkarm, West Bank, Palestine on June 5, 2020
Israeli forces demolished, on Thursday, a Palestinian-owned residential tin house in the town of Beit Ummar, southern occupied West Bank, according to a local anti-settlements activist.
Activist, Mohammad Awad, told Palestinian WAFA News Agency that the Israeli forces seized the contents of the home, located near Hebron, then proceeded to demolish the tin house, under the pretext it was built without a permit.
The owner, Ali al-Allami, along with his 9 family members have been displaced by the occupation authorities a second time. He said he built the present tin house on the same location as that of the last house demolished by Israel in 2019.
The occupation authorities have been demolishing many Palestinian-owned residential and agricultural structures at an increasing rate.
Dozens of Muslim Palestinian worshipers reportedly performed Friday prayer, on the land of the village of Hares, in the Salfit District, northern occupied West Bank.
According to the mayor of Hares, Omar Samara, said that this Friday’s prayer is the second to be performed on the same piece of land that has recently been threatened by an Israeli military authorities’ plan for confiscation.
Among those who took part in such a special Friday sermon, outside of a regular mosque, was Waleed Assaf, Palestinian Authority’s (PA) minister for the Israeli Apartheid Wall affairs.
Assaf was quoted as saying that their prayer for today sends out a clear message of Palestinian steadfastness on their own lands, in the face of Israeli colonial settlement plans of Palestinian-owned lands, across the occupied West Bank.
Also, Father Abdallah Yulyo, of the Christian Palestinian community in the West Bank, participated in the special Muslims’ prayer.
He was quoted as saying;
“My message as a religious figure is a message of commitment to the Palestinian land, irrespective of my religious background. It is true I do pray my own way, but I would like to say that protecting the Palestinian lands is a sacred duty that we all, as Palestinians, should assume, until the Israeli occupation ends and an independent Palestinian statehood is created on those lands”.
– Father Abdallah Yulyo
Israeli occupation authorities have recently revealed a number of colonial settlement plans, across the Palestinian West Bank, which Israel is reported to start annexing by July 1 of this summer.
Many key international players, along with United Nations and relevant international resolutions, regard the West Bank as an occupied Palestinian territory, from which Israel must withdraw in order to allow for an independent Palestinian state with the internationally-recognized occupied East Jerusalem, as its capital.
Israeli military reportedly wounded, on Friday, at least four Palestinians, as a result of Israeli soldier’s shooting rubber-coated steel bullets towards the dozens of local Palestinian protesters in the West Bank village of Kufur Qaddoum, a part of the West Bank district of Qalqilia.
Those wounded today were taking part in the weekly Friday protest to express their objection to the Israeli Apartheid Wall that surrounds the northern West Bank village of Kufur Qaddoum.
Media spokesperson for the local popular resistance movement in Qalqilia, Morad Eshteiwi, told media outlets that the weekly protest this week coincides with the 53rd anniversary of the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, back in June 5, 1967.
The spokesperson said that Israeli soldiers, defying peaceful protestors, also fired volleys of tear-gas canisters, causing the suffocation of several young men. They also chased a number of other youths into an abandoned home, where the youths took shelter. No arrests were reported.
Witnesses said that the protestors chanted slogans against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank, and called for the tearing down of the Israeli Apartheid Wall that has strangled the village of Kufur Qaddoum, causing vast areas of Palestinian-owned farm lands to be lost.
Israeli police, on Thursday evening, invaded the home and mourning tent of Palestinian martyr, Eyad al-Hallaq, in Wad al-Jouz neighborhood in Occupied Jerusalem, the Palestinian Information Center reported.
Local sources said that the Israeli police searched the family home and mourning tent, showing grave disrespect, and provoking confrontations with locals, which resulted in the arrest of two Palestinian civilians.
Eyad al-Hallaq, a 32-year-old Palestinian with autism, was shot and killed by Israeli police forces, in Jerusalem’s Old City, while he was on his way to his special education school.
Today, Thursday 4 June 2020, Israeli occupation forces abducted Palestinian university student Yahya al-Qarout from his family home in the Aqtaba area in occupied Tulkarem after large numbers of occupation soldiers stormed the home at 4:00 a.m. Al-Qarout is in his third year of study at Bir Zeit University, where he studies computer science. He is also the secretary as the preparatory committee of the Bir Zeit University Student Council.
Samidoun Network in occupied Palestine communicated with Yahya’s family, who told Samidoun representatives that this was his first arrest. His family is making attempts to reach the International Committee of the Red Cross and the Prisoners’ Affairs Commission in order to learn more about their son’s situation and seek his immediate release. He is expected to be brought before Israeli occupation military courts on Sunday.
The al-Qarout family noted that Yahya is a calm, dedicated student who loves sports, especially weightlifting and football, and is a very socially oriented person who always tries to help and support others.
Over the years, thousands of Palestinian university students have been targeted for arrest and persecution. Palestinian universities have been frequently raided by Israeli occupation forces; student organizations’ offices have been ransacked, their belongings confiscated and destroyed.
Palestinian student activities are notable for their political diversity and expression. Student council elections spark a vast amount of debate and political competition between all trends of the Palestinian movement and are often considered to reflect the prevailing sentiment in Palestinian society. This vibrant expression of a democratic political culture is routinely subjected to violent suppression by the Israeli occupation, including raids and arrests targeting student council members.
Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network once again urges broad global solidarity with Yahya al-Qarout and all Palestinian students facing repression, arrest and imprisonment targeting their right to education. This includes escalating academic boycott campaigns by students and faculty at universities around the world. Palestinian students continue to organize, struggle and learn despite severe and systematic repression, including torture under interrogation and arrests that inhibit and disrupt their academic careers. We demand the immediate release of Yahya al-Qarout and all imprisoned students!
It is not hard to imagine what would have happened if a Palestinian had executed, in similar fashion, an Israeli with special needs. But when the victim is Palestinian, nearly everything is permissible
By Gideon Levy
Eyad al-Halak left his house at about six that morning. His family says he was in a good mood. Video from a security camera not far from his house shows him walking along, holding a garbage bag. He always took out the trash when he left home in the morning.
Halak was on his way to the care facility where he had been going every morning for the last six years. He entered the Old City of Jerusalem through the Lion’s Gate and proceeded along King Faisal Road, the start of the Via Dolorosa. He was headed for the Elwyn El-Quds centre for people with special needs, a few hundred yards from the Lion’s Gate, near the entrance to the Al-Aqsa plaza.
World in ruins
Halak never reached his destination last Saturday. Israeli border police began chasing him, shouting: “Terrorist! terrorist!” The reason is unclear. They fired on him, evidently hitting him in the leg. Panicked, he ran into a garbage room alongside the road in an attempt to hide.
His counsellor from the Elwyn center, Warda Abu Hadid, likewise on her way to the centre, also tried to hide in the garbage room from the police and their gunfire.
Three border police officers quickly arrived at the doorway to the garbage room. Halak was lying on his back on the filthy floor. His counsellor saw that his leg was bleeding. The three policemen stood there, guns drawn, and screamed at Halak: “Where’s the rifle? Where’s the rifle?”
Abu Hadid, his counsellor, was yelling back at them, in both Arabic and Hebrew: “He is disabled! He is disabled!” Halak was yelling: “I am with her! I am with her!” This went on for about five minutes, until one of the police officers fired his M-16 towards Halak at close range. A bullet hit him near the waist and struck his spine, damaging various internal organs on the way – killing him on the spot.
Thus ended the short life of Iyad al-Halak, a Palestinian young man with autism whose face was that of an angel. He was 32 and the apple of his parents’ eye. They cared for him with utmost devotion all those years, and now their entire world is in ruins.
It is not hard to imagine what would have happened if a Palestinian had executed, in similar fashion, an Israeli with special needs. But when the victim is Palestinian, nearly everything is permissible.
Killed for being Palestinian
In recent years, at least four other Palestinians with similar disabilities have been fatally shot by soldiers or police. A couple of weeks before Halak was killed, Israeli security forces killed Mustafa Younis, a Palestinian citizen of Israel with a psychiatric impairment, at the entrance to Sheba Medical Center, one of the largest hospitals in Israel, after Younis stabbed a security guard.
Younis could have been arrested, but an approach imported from the occupied territories into Israel dictates that live fire is the preferred first option for security forces, instead of a last resort.
But let’s be clear: the fact that these victims were mentally impaired is not the point. They were not killed for being disabled; they were killed for being Palestinian.
Dozens of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli forces over the past year, one of the quietest in the history of this bloody conflict. In nearly every case, they posed no threat to anyone; nearly all could have been arrested, or at least wounded, rather than killed.
Two days after Halak’s killing, his grieving father told me that when he was informed his son had been injured, he knew he had been killed. “The Israeli military and the Israeli police never just injure, they only kill,” Halak’s father said in his mourning tent in the Wadi Joz neighbourhood.
Among the Palestinians killed in the occupied territories in recent months have been young women who tried using scissors to attack armed security forces at checkpoints; young men who tried to stab a soldier but managed barely to scratch one; people in cars who damaged military vehicles, maybe accidentally, maybe as intentional attacks; youths who threw stones and sometimes Molotov cocktails that neither injured anyone nor caused any damage; unarmed protesters and people trying to slip into Israel; and some who had done nothing at all, nor planned to do anything – people like Eyad al-Halak, the young man whose mother called him an angel.
It is no coincidence that within Israel proper, almost all the people wrongly victimised by Israeli police – who become more violent with each passing year – have been Palestinian citizens of Israel. Sometimes they are Ethiopian Jews. Every time a car thief, or a demonstrator, or someone whose behaviour is deemed suspicious, or somebody else altogether is fatally shot by police, it nearly always turns out that they are Arab.
This is not about the occupation, nor about terrorism. This is about the featherlight touch of the finger on the trigger when the target is Palestinian. There is nothing cheaper in today’s Israel than the lives of Palestinians.
The media is the most contemptible collaborator with the occupation and with racism in Israel. The Israeli media whitewash each wrongful killing, launder it, justify it, so long as the victim is Palestinian. Media coverage of these events is minimal. The message is: a dead Arab, no story there … nothing of interest, or nothing of importance, or both.
Even in a case as shocking as the execution of Halak, media coverage is hardly appropriate. The story is generally marginalised or simply ignored. Israelis do not want to hear about it, and the media prefer not to trouble them. These same media, meanwhile, raucously magnify every instance of injury to a Jew, turning it into an epic tale of apocalypse, magnified to a decibel level that is difficult to fathom.
Impunity for Israeli forces
Next, of course, comes the matter of punishment. In general, when Palestinians are killed by Israeli forces, either no investigation is launched, or an investigation is announced but subsequently buried or terminated inconclusively. The message to soldiers and policemen is clear: kill them, and nothing bad will happen to you.
Meanwhile, there is the ever-present brainwashing in Israel that includes the dehumanisation and demonisation of Palestinians. Every Palestinian is a terrorist bombing waiting to happen, unless proved otherwise. Every Palestinian killed is killed legitimately, and all their executioners were under lethal threat.
Even the language that describes these deaths in the Israeli media tells a different story when the victim is a Jew as compared with a Palestinian. A Palestinian is never “murdered” by a soldier or a settler. A Jew killed by a Palestinian is always “murdered”, even if the soldier is brutally invading a family’s home without justification in the middle of the night.
This cloak provided by the media’s cooperation and brainwashing, together with the nonexistent punishment and the racist values so thoroughly imprinted on the Israeli consciousness, creates a situation in which human life becomes worthless.
No peace without equality
If an Israeli soldier or policeman were to shoot a dog tomorrow, the shooter would almost certainly be punished more harshly than if he had shot a Palestinian. In the media, too, the death of a stray dog is typically a bigger story than a dead Palestinian.
Shooting any living thing is, of course, prohibited – but when a dead dog creates more of a furore than the death of a Palestinian, something is seriously wrong.
Here, perhaps, lies the crux of the key to change, the prospects for which are continually receding: so long as the lives of Palestinians are so devalued by Israelis, who simultaneously are sworn to protect the sanctity of Jewish lives, no political solution will have traction – even if one should someday be achieved.
Given values that hold life cheap, dehumanise the “other”, and blindly justify killing him while ignoring his victimisation, there can be no equality in consciousness, without which peace can never come.
Truly, this is the fundamental thing: that they and we are equal human beings with equal rights – and how remote and unrealistic this vision seems today.
From the US to the Middle East, pauperised citizenries are rising up to remove the violent governments ruling over them
The ongoing protests over the May 25 police killing of George Floyd and the United States political establishment’s heavy-handed response to them are seminal developments in modern American history.
They not only expose the deep-rooted racism of the American society but also provide yet another refutation to American exceptionalism – the widely-held belief that the US is fundamentally different from and superior to other nations.
This is because the events currently unfolding in the US mirror almost perfectly the core dynamics of the mass uprisings we regularly witness around the world that are triggered by the violent and oppressive policies of authoritarian or colonial regimes.
I personally experienced many such uprisings during my lifetime, in Israel-Palestine, several different Arab countries and also in the US.
I was a university student in the US in the late 1960s and early 1970s when widespread protests – then termed “race riots” – engulfed predominantly African American urban areas of the country. I also witnessed and engaged with the birth of the Black Lives Matter movement there in 2013.
What I observed in the last five decades as I lived through these citizen rebellions, and what I am feeling in my bones as I watch the widespread protests in the US today, is that they are all born out of identical political and human phenomena.
Three shared elements define all these uprisings across time and space: why protesters take to the streets, how the political ruling class reacts, and how the mainstream media covers what is happening.
Taking to the streets to demand ‘dignity’
First, a ravaged, poverty-stricken and helpless citizenry that has been mistreated for decades by its own ruling elite or by an occupying power finally takes to the streets to express its despair in the only manner available to it.
African Americans, Palestinians, and other Arab nationals have all suffered demeaning and sustained poverty, dilapidated socio-economic conditions, permanent political powerlessness and decades of unfulfilled promises of change.
The overriding motivation behind all the citizen rebellions that I have witnessed in my lifetime, from the repeated anti-racism protests in the US to the Arab uprisings of the past decade, has been the chronic humiliation of ordinary citizens at the hands of the ruling elites. The ruling classes’ slow but steady dehumanisation of the masses eventually broke through the surface and triggered public protests.
The single demand that captures the aspirations of Palestinians, Arabs, and African Americans is “dignity” – not wealth, not power, not revenge, but human dignity. This is because dignity is the only antidote for people who feel they are being treated like animals and can be shot and killed at will.
Not surprisingly, the most common spark that sets off mass protests across the world is the killing of civilians by government troops or the private militia and thugs of ruling elites.
Oppressive governments and colonial regimes are killing unarmed, helpless citizens with the very same sense of entitlement and impunity from Palestine and the US. Within the same week that the Minneapolis police killed George Floyd, for example, Israeli army troops in Jerusalem shot and killed Iyad Halak, a 32-year-old autistic Palestinian man who did not understand their orders.
Responding to protests against violence with more violence
Once masses take to the streets to protest against the senseless killing of their compatriots at the hands of state security forces, the governments often make a series of generic statements: “We are investigating cases of security forces who killed unarmed civilians”; “People have the right to protest peacefully but not to use violence”; and “We will look into the wider grievances of citizens and make sure that unacceptable conditions are improved quickly.”
Over the years, I listened to government officials, police commissioners and bureaucrats make these very same statements, albeit in different languages, from the US to Iraq, Lebanon, and Israel-Palestine.
The problem with these statements is that nobody believes them any more. Exasperated citizens see elites who make promises and offer thoughts and prayers as selfish liars and insincere brutes who will do and say anything to stay in power, especially to maintain the existing economic structures that enrich them and impoverish everyone else.
As these statements no longer succeed in sedating angry, frustrated masses that often do not have much left to lose, the governments simultaneously unleash more state violence to bring uprisings under control. Police forces and army troops beat, gas, forcefully detain and even kill protesters to subdue the masses.
This has been the case during the Arab uprisings and Palestinian intifadas, and it is the case now in the US.
Surprisingly, these elites ignore the long-term consequences of repeatedly beating down protesters and killing innocent civilians. Those consequences include repeated national uprisings and revolutions, some of which have removed Arab autocrats from power since 2011.
Media focus on the drama, ignore the deep-rooted grievances behind protests
The final common element that I found in all the citizen rebellions that I witnessed first-hand is the mainstream media’s broad failure to probe deeply into the causes of the protesters’ discontent.
In Israel-Palestine, other Arab nations and the US, whenever the citizenry takes to the streets en masse, the media focuses primarily on the drama of crowds of protesters confronting the police. They provide detailed reports on property vandalism or attacks against security forces, but rarely take the time to humanise the protesters by reporting empathetically and accurately on the web of inhuman and discriminatory conditions that caused them to revolt.
The media widely fails to explore the structures of racism, colonialism, abuse of power and lack of equal rights in the US, Arab states and Israeli-occupied Palestine that trigger protests year after year, and decade after decade.
Towards a ‘global intifada’
As long as governments and occupying forces around the world continue to reach for their guns, tear gas canisters and batons to disperse protesters demanding dignity, equality and freedom from state violence, masses who have little left to lose will continue to rise against their oppressors.
In a globalised and deeply connected world, where mainstream media cannot continue to mask the interconnected and deep-rooted grievances of the subjugated and demeaned peoples, these citizen rebellions can soon pave the way for a “global intifada”.
Today, even the last remaining proponents of American exceptionalism are being forced to abandon their misguided beliefs, as the US acts exactly like other authoritarian and colonial powers and unleashes more violence upon protesters who only want freedom from state violence. As the state appears unable and unwilling to uproot the racist power structures that are preventing millions of Americans from living their lives with dignity, it is certain that African Americans and other mistreated citizens will continue their quest for social justice.
The Israeli occupation and continued annexation of Palestinian lands, now with the explicit approval of the US, clearly demonstrates that the colonial era in the Middle East is not yet over. So Palestinians will also continue to rebel and resist as they can.
In Arab countries, millions also continue to suffer as ruling elites pursue derelict policies that generate more poverty, inequality and desperation. This is why Arabs have been taking to the streets regularly for the last decade and this is why they will continue to do so in the coming years.
Across the globe, from the US to the Middle East, pauperised citizenries are rising up to reform or remove the militarised, racist and violent governments and regimes ruling over them. And they will continue their fight until they succeed.
June 5th marks Naksa Day, otherwise known as ‘the setback’. This day marks the defeat of Arab nations during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War and the beginning of the military occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. It has been 53 years since Palestinians suffered this setback and Israel’s military occupation is now one of the longest occupations in modern history. The Naksa saw over 300,000 Palestinians expelled from their homes, further exacerbating the Palestinian refugee crisis.
The Naksa, like the Nakba is not just some distant historical event. Palestinians have suffered countless catastrophes and setbacks in their struggle for freedom and their human rights. The Palestinian cause only came to the world’s attention during the First Intifada, when the injustice faced by Palestinians led to grassroots protests and civil disobedience. However, the years in between had seen the occupation displacing families, stealing land and resources and causing trauma to further generations. The annexation of East Jerusalem demoralised Palestinians and set in place a culture of brutality and dehumanisation in Israel society that was actioned through its military and legal system.
Today, these systems of repression have been entrenched and strengthened through the occupation. The Wall, checkpoints and settlements make everyday life difficult and dangerous for Palestinians. The siege of Gaza has cut if off from the West Bank, and the attempts to re-imagine Jerusalem without Palestinian roots has cased families to live in fear and be targeted through discriminatory civil and legal practices.
The Naksa was not only a setback for Palestinians, it caused huge changes and shifts across the Middle East. It is an event that further disenfranchised the Palestinians and learning about it is necessary to understand the Palestinian struggle and what an occupation really is.